I think that more than any other place in the world, that Paris is for everyone.
Before I get into the guide itself, I wanna make one thing very clear; This guide should be followed very loosely. If you have a few things that you know you just HAVE to see while you’re there, schedule at least a day or two to take the metro, miander through small alleyways out of tourists way, and enjoy the life of a Parisian.
There’s a french word that I’ve lived by while traveling since I was introduced to it, and that word is: Flâneur. Although it doesn’t have an english counterpart, the easiest way to describe it would be to idly wander or stroll, with all of it’s accompanying associations.
When I learned Flâneur, It really spoke to me about travel, and I started to take it quite seriously. I wandered the streets with no destination in mind, taking in all of the sights, scents and smells of the city that enthralls people. I ended up spending the entire week and a half without any plans, just ‘flâneuring‘ about town.
I had a hard time decided even if I should send you off with a list of places to eat, and things to see in this amazing city, but there are definitely a few things you should wander into if you’re able to while you’re there.
SIDE NOTE: If you don’t feel like reading, and just want to get to the goods, you can scroll all the way to the end to my customized Paris Map to see all the places I would sleep and eat.
WHERE TO STAY:
Hotel Providence – $ – A cozy fireplace, bar and restaurant, architectural details, Pointe de Hongrie wooden floors and marble mosaics are only a few reasons why this hotel is a design lovers dream.
Le Meurice – $$ – First, a note that this may be the only $$ place I tell you to go. Most I don’t feel are worth the money but Le Meurice is! The original palace hotel, in the heart of the historic district is the epitome of elegance. Make sure to eat at the Ducasse restaurant if you stay here.
A Cozy Space near the Moulin Rouge – $ – My friend and I stayed here for a week and it was in the best location. We always felt safe, were in walking distance to many amazing bistros as well as the scare coeur, and had our share of markets around as well.
WHERE TO EAT:
Berthillon – $ – When I send someone recommendations and they only have a short time in Paris, I make it very clear that this should be the one stop that they make. A trip to Paris is just not the same without the best ice cream on the planet. My order is always Noisette (hazelnut) and Chocolat.
Le Taillevent – $ – Celebrated by a Michelin Star, this beautifully elegant restaurant located just blocks from the Arc de Triomphe has an everchanging menu, and is as elegant as you would expect. One of my favorite food memories to this day was the foie gras ravioli they served me as a part of their tasting menu.
Verjus – $ – An extremely fun meal that consists of a playful, delicious prix fixe menu. Go when you want an amazing meal, but don’t want to deal with the ‘stuffiness’ of a traditional fine dine.
Cafe St. Regis – $ – Definitely a touristy joint, but one of my favorite spots in Paris. It’s a place that I frequent while I’m visiting so go, sit outside at a bistro table and get the soupe à l’oignon (aka french onion soup). Fun Fact: We also celebrated part of my bachelorette party here!
L’Avant Comptoir – $ – This one I chased after. I had seen Anthony Bourdain visit, and it delivered. Small plates and snacks in a standing room where they serve up incredible wines. Think perfectly salted butter, cornichons, and Foie Gras Macarons. Yep.
PARIS TRAVEL TIPS:
1. The Basics will get you far. I’ve heard so many times from my friends and acquaintances that Parisians are cold, or rude. I’ve never ran into this, and the only thing I’ve been able to track it back to was the fact that they didn’t even try to speak french, and i use the basics. No, you don’t need to learn the entire french language to go, but learning words and phrases like, “hello & goodbye”, “how are you?”, “please & thank you”, and “pardon me”.
2. Bring cash. I’ve had a couple times, where I’ve enjoyed a meal, or a cappuccino only to find out that they’re cash-only! Having to run and find the closest atm is always a little embarrassing, so be prepared.
3. Stay Alert. This doesn’t totally mean be distrusting, and I’d say this of any major, capitol city. Pickpockets are alive and well in big cities, especially on metros, and touristic areas. I once was sitting at a bistro table with my purse behind me on my chair and someone tried to get into it while I was sitting there. I immediately turned around and said, “NO!” and he ran away, but it was a close call, and they’re definitely fearless! So be aware!
4. Plan for traveling by foot or metro. Do not rent a car in Paris, I repeat, do not rent a car. Pack some good walking shoes, buy a metro pass and explore like a local.
5. August is a quiet month for a reason. Parisians enjoy almost a full month of summer holiday in August, which takes them out of the city. Some love this because the touristy areas are still open and available, but I will warn that many of the local bakeries and choice restaurants are closed during that time.
6. Scheduling is a bit ‘loose’. Make sure to double-check hours online. I also follow or at least check a restaurants instagram the day I’m planning to go to see if there’s life if I can’t find the hours online.
7. If you can bare the cold, go in the ‘off-season. Not that there really is one for Paris, but it definitely helps if you’re looking to see most of the monuments and touristy areas.
8. Go off the beaten path for food. Too many times, I’ve heard the the food is pricey and not that great. Which excuse my language, is a whole bunch of bullshit. If you have a choice between a brasserie a block away from and with views of the eiffel tower, and one six blocks away in a charming side street, choose the charming side street.